Why To Choose Thunderbolt vs USB 3.0

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by CryptoGraphic, Jan 20, 2015.

  1. CryptoGraphic macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2015
    Ok. Thunderbolt is faster but for example i will use it an external HDD. Both of these are faster than HDD write/read skills. So USB 3.0 should be ok. Am i right?
  2. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    Exactly. Unless you need to daisy chain multiple drives, there is no good reason to spend all the extra money for TB for a single external hard drive.

    Even with an SSD the speeds are very close. See this test.
  3. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Given the lack of products, and other computer makers embracing TB, its a rather expensive endeavor. Unless you need a high level of throughput USB 3 is more then enough for most people.
  4. CryptoGraphic thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2015
    Thanks. I recently got a mac mini (2014) with 8 GB Ram and 256 GB SSD. I will need more storage for my photo archive (that i taken). I won't use it daily. New photos will stay on SSD. I just have a 500GB USB 2 external right now. I think about 1 or 2 TB USB 3.0 HDD. Any other advice?

    Btw, can i think about 2 TB Airport as an option for this purpose?
  5. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    If you just want to use it for backup, that 500GB will do the trick. That is still 2X the size of your SSD and would give you plenty of space for versioning.

    If you are saying you plan to store photos on the same external as you use for backup, that is dangerous because if that drive dies you have no backup of the photos and they are gone.

    What would be better is get a separate external for the photos then use one drive for the photos and another drive to backup. That way the backup drive would have a second copy of the photos.

    OS X Time Machine backup program will by default exclude your external drives from backup, so you want to go into the Time Machine options to drag that external out of the excluded backups section.
  6. CryptoGraphic thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2015
    Ok. My last decision is to get a HDD case. I'll put my current PC's 1TB HDD in it and will use it as an external HDD via USB. I will use 500GB one for backup. When i have money i'll think about Airport Time Capsule etc. =)

    Thanks for -quick- responses to my first thread.
  7. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Well you have the protocol stack and latency, if you want to be technical. USB does not support the entire SATA command set.

    For everyday use, the advantage of TB is it just works a lot better, much more of a solid product. USB is a bandaid as a storage transfer method. Because of complicated sleep state and protocol stacks, USB3 with Macs can be fickle, some work well, other USB drives are a PITA with disconnects and sleep issues galore.

    The old argument the TB stuff is much more expensive doesn't hold much water today, as TB prices have dropped, USB3 has increased. TB is still more money. USB is most suitable for portable drives.

    Just saying that comparing USB and TB is more than simply speed and cost.... if it matters. Shouldn't matter for you.
  8. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010
    Comes down to uses.

    USB3 sends data in packets.
    Thunderbolt is like Firewire, which sends and receives data in steady streams.

    Hence Thunderbolt is most commony used when editingvideo or music etc, when constant steady streams of data are required.

    USB3 is best suited to backing up data etc, since a steady stream is not required and they are cheaper!
  9. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    One thing to remember about using an external hard drive for storage:

    ONE COPY of your data IS NOT ENOUGH.

    You'll need a SECOND external drive with which to make and maintain a backup of the "primary external" drive.

    For backup purposes, I'd suggest you look into a USB3/SATA docking station, and one (or more) "bare drives".
    They will not look as snazzy as a nice standalone external case, but...
    ...they are cheap, easy, functional.
  10. 65535 macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2011
    I use Thunderbolt for my external desktop drives on my nMP because it supports functional sleep mode and has a stable connection that I can daisy chain off of when needed.

    For portable drives I usually go for USB 3.0/Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 for compatibility sake.
  11. h9826790 macrumors G4


    Apr 3, 2014
    Hong Kong
    For HDD, there is no reason to use TB if more expensive (apart from daisy chain). However, for SSD, I think TB provide TRIM support, which may be a good reason why go for TB.
  12. MrX8503 macrumors 68020

    Sep 19, 2010
    Reasons you may want TB:

    1. Daisy chain
    2. SSD RAID Speeds
    3. Boot drive (although I think you can do with USB3 now?)
    4. TRIM
    5. Reliable sleep wake

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